10 greatest NBA players to never win a ring

Allen Iverson
"Allen Iverson and the Sixers" flickr photo by Kevin Burkett https://flickr.com/photos/kevinwburkett/4187095352 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

The greatest NBA players to never win a ring had superb resumes—from winning multiple MVPs, All-NBAs, and All-Star selections. However, they are missing the most important accomplishment, and that’s winning an NBA championship.

No matter how hard these players tried, some of them were just unlucky for a lot of reasons. Basketball is a team sport and one can only contribute so much to get the team in the position to win a title.

Greatest NBA players to never win a ring

Rings are often the measurement to quantify one’s greatness. However, this argument just looks at one side of the coin. It puts a lot of pressure on a lot of great individual players who won various accolades but never won a ring.

Sure, rings are a huge boost but they shouldn’t be the sole basis in measuring one’s greatness. If we go by this logic, then three-time NBA champion Patrick McCaw is better than John Stockton.

It’s time to appreciate players who put blood, sweat, and tears to be the best version of themselves to help their teams. Here are the ten greatest NBA players to never win a ring…

10. Tracy McGrady

Tracy McGrady is one of the biggest ‘what if’ players in NBA history. He dominated the league in scoring at 23 years old and averaged 32 points per game. However, he never got the chance to reach his prime due to his injuries.

Later on in his career, he joined the Spurs in 2013 to finally get a ring as a veteran. McGrady didn’t suit up to play until the postseason. During the same season, San Antonio reached the NBA Finals but Miami defeated them 4-3. It was his first and last chance of getting a ring.

Throughout his career, McGrady was a seven-time All-NBA and seven-time All-Star.


9. Dominique Wilkins

When it comes to dunks and highlights, Dominique Wilkins is the first name that comes to mind. He was literally producing highlights every game due to his athleticism and explosiveness.

Wilkins was a prolific scorer on the inside due to his size and athletic ability. This is why he was crowned as the scoring champion in the 1985-86 season when he averaged 30 points per game.

Despite this, Wilkins never got the chance to win a single ring in his 16-year career or even the NBA Finals. Still, Wilkins had a lot of accolades under his belt — he was nine-time All-NBA and a nine-time All-Star.

8. Reggie Miller

Reggie Miller will always be remembered for his clutch gene and sharpshooting skills. Moreover, his trash-talking and competitiveness made the game more entertaining for fans. He even went head to head with Michael Jordan himself.

Despite playing for 18 seasons with the Pacers, Reggie Miller only got to the Finals once. His only Finals appearance was against the Lakers in 2000 when they lost 4-2. Miller averaged 24.3 points and 3.7 assists in the series.

Still, he had a solid career with Indiana and was three-time All-NBA and a five-time All-Star. He was also ranks fourth all-time in three pointers made (2,560).

7. Steve Nash

Steve Nash is one of the best playmakers ever, ranking fourth all-time in assists (10,335). Throughout his career, he led the league in assists five times and even won the MVP twice.

Despite these accolades, Nash never got the chance to reach the NBA Finals, and ultimately win the ring. He didn’t get past the Western Conference Finals with his former teams—Mavericks and Suns.

Still, Nash had a solid career worthy of the Hall of Fame status. He was a two-time MVP, seven-time All-NBA, eight-time All-Star, and five-time Assists Champ.

6. Elgin Baylor

One of the greatest NBA players to never win a ring, Elgin Baylor is a high-flying superstar who played like Michael Jordan before Michael Jordan happened. Baylor averaged 27.4 points, 13.5 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game throughout his 14-year career with the Lakers.

Despite being on a team known to win championships, Elgin Baylor didn’t win a single ring with the Lakers. Los Angeles reached the Finals seven times but also lost seven times during his time there. Baylor was ranked second for the most Finals losses with seven, behind Jerry West‘s eight.

Still, Baylor had a legendary career. He was a 10-time All-NBA, and 11-time All-Star.

5. Patrick Ewing

The 90s was pretty much the golden era for centers in the NBA, and Patrick Ewing is one of them. He was a double-double machine, a prolific scorer, and an elite rim protector. Throughout his career, Ewing averaged 21 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks per game.

Ewing’s closest chance of getting a ring was during the 1994 and 1999 seasons with the Knicks. In 1994, the Knicks lost to the Rockets 4-3; and in 1999, the Knicks lost to the Spurs 4-1.

Ewing will be always remembered as one of the greatest players who didn’t win a championship. Throughout his career, he was a seven-time All-NBA, 11-time All-Star, and three-time All-Defensive.

4. Allen Iverson

Allen Iverson was one of the most exciting players in the league. Despite his small stature, he was able to be a dominant force, especially in the scoring department.

Iverson was crowned the league MVP in the 2000-01 season. He then led the Sixers to the Finals in the same year where they faced the heavily-favored Lakers. This was his closest chance of getting a ring. However, they lost 4-1. Iverson averaged 35.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game in the series.

Throughout his career, he was an MVP, seven-time All-NBA, four-time Scoring Champ, and three-time Steals Champ.

3. John Stockton

One of the greatest point guards ever, John Stockton was a playmaking maestro and a pesky defender. He’s still the NBA All-Time leader in assists (15,806) and steals (3,265) categories.

Despite making the playoffs for almost two decades with the Jazz, Stockton never had the chance to win a ring. His closest chance was during the 1997 and 1998 seasons where Utah faced Chicago twice in the Finals but lost twice also.

Stockton had a solid resume as he was 11-time All-NBA, 10-time All-Star, five-time All-Defensive, nine-time Assists Champ, and two-time Steals Champ. One could argue that he’d be in the conversation for the greatest point guard of all time if he won a ring.

2. Charles Barkley

Standing at 6’6″ while weighing 250 pounds, Charles Barkley is one of the strongest players ever. His explosiveness and strength were enough to overpower taller defenders down low. Throughout his 16-year career, he was an MVP, 11-time All-NBA, 11-time All-Star, and a Rebounding Champ.

Barkley won the MVP during the 1992-93 season and led the Suns to the Finals in the same year where they faced Michael Jordan and the Bulls.

Phoenix ultimately lost the series against Chicago. Barkley played great in that series where he averaged 27.3 points, 13.0 rebounds, and 5.5 assists. It was his first and last Finals appearance.

He then joined the Rockets in 1996 to form a superteam with Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. Even with a stacked lineup, they lost to the Jazz in the Western Conference Finals.

1. Karl Malone

When people look for the best NBA players not to win a title, Karl Malone is the first name that usually pops up. Throughout his 19-year career, he was a two-time MVP, 14-time All-NBA, 14-time All-Star, and four-time All-Defensive.

The Mailman perfected the “old-man game” where he would bully defenders on the low-post, shoot it in the midrange, and pass to the open man. He and Stockton complemented each other, forming one of the best duos of all time.

Malone had his chances of winning the championship in the 1997 and 1998 seasons. He led the Jazz in both Finals where he averaged 23.8 points and 10.3 rebounds per game in 1997, and 25 points and 10.5 rebounds per game in 1998. We all know what happened in both of these Finals.

At the end of his career, he joined the Kobe-Shaq Lakers to try and finally get an NBA championship as a 40-year-old veteran. However, the Pistons won that year and spoiled Malone’s final chance of winning a ring.

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About Jeremy Mallari 128 Articles
Jeremy lives and breathes basketball. He's an avid NBA fan for almost a decade now.

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